By: Jill Komm
Earlier this summer, 9 extraordinary women from Buffalo joined me on the Momentum Israel Journey. This diverse group had one common factor – everyone was a mom to a Jewish child under 18 years old. The trip was jam packed with all the typical Israel tourist attractions, as well as deep learning about what it means to parent a Jewish child. For the past two weeks we’ve featured 6 of the women from the trip, and today we are pleased to highlight the final three, all of whom share a meaningful moment they experienced in their own words.
Meet Lara Star Martini, Nancy Enis, and Christina Akers-Dicenzo:
Lara Star Martini
I am not generally someone who cries easily. Some people cry happy tears, some cry reading books, and some cry at the drop of a hat – this has never been me. And while I am full of emotions, I just don’t express myself like that, and certainty not publicly. During the Momentum trip however, I was tearing up at almost every lecture and talk we were given. It didn’t matter if it was uplifting, inspiring, or something sad yet brave. On our third day, we focused on Shalom Bayit – Peace & Wholeness in the Home. We talked about our roles as mothers, and what we do daily to maintain Shalom Bayit. After the lecture, our Buffalo group had a chance to reflect together, and I absolutely lost it. I became a sobbing, weeping mess in front of women I barely knew and certainly did not want to cry in front of. I was so distraught and overwhelmed about motherhood, the constant feelings of failure, the pressure to do it all, and the day-to-day grueling work that it takes to raise a human. I became a fountain of emotions. I can’t explain it, because I barely understood it myself, but I knew it would be ok when these women held space for me as I fell apart, and then tried to pick me back up. They saw me, the real me, that almost no one has seen. And it was ok; I was ok. I knew the women around me would make everything ok not just for that week, but when we got back home, and for a long time after.
I was far more moved going to the Kotel than I expected to be. I tried to have an open heart and take everything in. As I waited for my turn to stand directly in front of the wall, I could feel the incredible energy of all the prayers—all the women surrounding me–pouring out their hearts in languages I could not understand or in the silence of their souls. When it was my turn, I placed my hands and forehead on the cold stones. I did not have any plan about what I was going to say, but my mind turned to a pernicious problem that I have struggled with for decades. I silently expressed my wish that this issue would resolve and resumed immersing myself in the sensations of the moment. Then I “heard” IT IS DONE. I lingered a bit longer, enjoying the feeling of those holy stones beneath my fingers, and then I stepped back. My space was immediately filled by another woman, happy to have it.
Now I’m home and I agree, “It is done.”
Christina Akers-Dicenzo (pics: food plate and Christina w/buffalo sign)
As a mom of young children, my family reads a lot of children’s books. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner and Karen Kushner wrote in their children’s board book, “Where is God?,” about the spaces in our lives where God is found: “God is in the beginning. In the first red ripening tomato, and in cookies fresh from the oven. In the first day of summer, And in the tiny hands of a baby…”. The profound idea that God is in our everyday lives, in everyday spaces, while we do everyday things, is something I thought a lot about as each day of the trip passed. God is in the beginning, middle, and end.
Hands down, my favorite part of the Momentum experience was sharing it with nine amazing Buffalo women. This photo was taken on the first night of our Momentum adventure at dinner. This meal was incredibly special not only because it was one of the best I’ve had in my life, but because of the new friends I shared it with. For me, it was the start of a new adventure.
I was (and remain) in awe of how well everyone came together for this special trip, supported each other, and created bonds of friendship, and greatly look forward to continuing the Momentum journey with these incredible people.
Jill Komm is the Chief Creative Officer at Buffalo Jewish Federation and had the privilege of being the 2022 Buffalo Momentum Trip Leader.